Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What to Cook, Bake, or in General to Make Wednesdays

(Recipe from "Baked")
These cookies are every bit as delicious as they look.

S'mores Cookies
adapted from Make and Bake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reasons Your Marketing Materials Are Going Unread

  • You are using the "We-We" approach. Your marketing materials might be too "we" oriented instead of customer oriented. Your customers are interested in learning about you, but instead of talking about the new and improved equipment that you purchased, explain instead how this new equipment will benefit the customer.
    • Test - Perform the "We-We" test by counting the number of times you use we in one of your marketing pieces. While it will be impossible to delete all of the we references from your literature, work to cut the number in half.
  • Too much technical jargon. Depending on your audience, you should dumb-down the language in your literature if it is technical. You can have a technical person write the test for your materials, but you should always have someone in marketing, or a different department, reword the text into layman's terms.
    • Test - Have someone from outside your company read your marketing materials. If they can't understand what your message is, then chances are you need to rework your wording.
  • You haven't answered, "What's in it for me." You might be stating too many generalities in your literature. Be sure to focus more on the benefits instead of the features.
  • No call to action. Have you ever gotten a piece of mail encouraging you to purchase a product, but the literature contained no information on how to purchase the product? Make sure you include a call to action on every marketing piece that you send out.
  • Poor grammar, punctuation and lack of proofreading. This one doesn't require a lengthy explanation. Bottom line is that if people see mistakes, they will probably dismiss your marketing piece.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Product Spotlight: QR Code Business Cards

Some may say it’s a fad, but QR codes are here and they won’t be going anywhere any time soon. As I have mentioned in some of my previous blogs, business cards are still one of the most important tools that you can use to promote yourself and make a good first impression! So, what is the advantage of having a QR code on your business card? One distinct advantage of having a business card with a QR code is that you are making print interactive. People you meet have instant access to whatever you choose to share with them. Some examples include, your website, blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page, event sign up, and etc.

Here are some great examples of QR Code business cards that I found on

Geng Gao - QR code leads to his creative portfolio.
Reblis - QR code leads to a live Twitter feed as well as has links to Facebook, Linked In and Flickr.
QR Code leads to his photography portfolio.

Check out the links for each of them to see what creative ways people are using QR codes on their business cards! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What to Cook, Bake or In General Make Wednesday - Beer Cheese Dip

In honor of National Chip and Dip Day...a Wisconsin Favorite...

Beer Cheese Dip


Servings: 3 cups

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 packet (1 ounce) Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dips Mix
1/2 to 3/4 cup beer
Chopped green onions and shredded cheese, for garnish
Pretzels, Chips or assorted vegetables, for dipping

Combine Cheddar cheese, cream cheese and dips mix in medium bowl. Gradually stir in beer until mixture reaches desired consistence. Garnish with green onion and additional Cheddar cheese. Serve with pretzels, chips or assorted vegetables.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Considering Color when Designing a Logo

Color is an important part of visual arts….more importantly your logo. Different colors have different meanings and are used in logos to convey a specific message.  So, when you are designing your logo for the first time or you are going through a redesign, be sure to pay attention to the definitions of colors below and choose wisely!

Red: Action, Adventure, Aggressive, Danger, Drive, Energy, Excitement, Love, Passion, Strength and Vigor.

Red is an extreme and emotionally intense color. It is often used in logos to grab a viewer’s attention, raise one’s blood pressure or make people hungry.

Pink: Appreciation, Delicate, Femininity, Floral, Gentle, Girly, Gratitude, Innocence, Soft and Tranquil.

Pink conjures feelings of innocence and delicateness. It is often used in logos to add a feminine flare.

Orange: Affordable, Creativity, Enthusiasm, Fun, Jovial, Lighthearted, High-Spirited and Youthful

Orange is a common color seen in logos that offers a sense of openness and friendliness. Its bright and cheery nature captures the attention of viewers. Orange is used in logos to create playfulness or stimulate emotions and even appetites.

Yellow: Caution, Cheerful, Cowardice, Curiosity, Happiness, Joy, Playful, Positivity and Warmth

Yellow is the most difficult color for the eye to take in. Yellow is often used in logos to get attention, create happiness and warmth.

Green: Crisp, Environmental, Fresh, Harmony, Health, Healing, Inexperience, Money, Mature, Renewal and Tranquility

Green is calming, refreshing and conservative. You can often find it used in companies that want to portray themselves as eco-friendly.

Blue: Authority, Calm, Confidence, Dignity, Established, Loyalty, Power, Success, Secure and Trustworthy

Blue is the most popular color in logo design. It is used extensively in government, medical and fortune 500 company logos.

Purple: Ceremony, Expensive, Fantasy, Justice, Mystery, Nobility, Regal, Royalty, Sophistication and Spirituality.

Purple symbolizes rank and authority. Purple is rarely used in logos because it is rare in nature.

Brown: Calmness, Depth, Earth, Natural, Roughness, Richness, Simplicity, Serious, Subtle, Utility and Woodsy.

Brown suggests utility, earthiness, woodiness and subtle richness. It is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. It is widely used in legal logos.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

What's In An Address?

When we use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to deliver our mail, we need to be very specific and give all the information needed to insure the mail piece gets to the intended person(s). This information is placed on several lines of the label or mailing piece.

Line:                        Type of Information
First                        Name of person(s) or Company Name
Second                        Attention line or Address 1
Third                        Address 2
Fourth                        City, State, Zip

"Mail prepared by a Mailer Service will process the address data record and add the +4 (digits) to the Zip Code and also add a barcode--POSTNET barcode or Intelligent Mail barcode. Automated mail pieces have a barcode to allow for electronic mail sorting by the post office." 

Automated mail systems use the ZIP+4 to sort. Which identifies the city & state. Then it looks at the line directly above the City, State, Zip. This line must tell then the exact place to deliver the mail item. This can be a PO Box number or a location address. There is a +4 number assigned to every location address in each postal area (City) of every State.

The location address (see Third line of address example: Address 2) consisting of:
Example —818 E 23rd Street  or 2408 13th Street
Primary Number + directional (E,W,N,S) + (name of or number for) + (ST, AVE, BLVD, DRIVE, LANE, ROAD) + (SUITE #, ROOM #, UNIT #, APT #)

Larger cities with high rise buildings begin to add more complex sequence to the address structure, but keep in mind that it is important to have all of the parts to the address to provide complete and correct addresses. We are mailing this important letter to this person. With accurate and complete addresses the mail will arrive on schedule just at the exact location we included in the address block on the envelope.

Watch for discussions when we review considerations for planning, creating and managing our home or business mailing list database.

Questions and comments to:

Gary at Big Red Printing           

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Design Tutorial: How to Package a File in InDesign

When you package a file, the folder that you will create will contain all of the images and fonts that are used in your document. Packaging a file means that you do not have to outline your fonts before sending a file to a printer. Be sure to check with the printer to see what Suite of Adobe they are using. If you are using a higher version then them, there will be an additional step that you will have to do.

STEP 1: If you are using a higher version of Adobe then the print shop you will be sending your files to, you will first need to export your file to an IDML (InDesign Markup File). If you are using the same or a lower version of Adobe, then you can skip STEP 1.

STEP 2: Go to File> Package

When you click on package, the screen below will automatically pop up.

It appears that all links and fonts are found. If it appears that links and/or images are missing, you can go to their individual summary pages by clicking on the list on the left hand side of the box. 

If any of your fonts are missing, you will be able to correct that on this menu by using the find font feature.

Same goes for links. If any are missing, you will be able to update and find them here.

STEP 3: When you are done checking the details of you document, click PACKAGE. A box will pop up and say that  the publication must be saved before continuing. Click SAVE.

STEP 4: After you click save, a Printing Instructions box will pop up. (see below). You should fill in your basic contact information as well as any special instructions you have for the printer.

STEP 5: After you click continue, the Create Package Folder will automatically pop up.  Make sure that Copy Fonts, Copy Linked Graphics and Update Graphic Links In Package are all checked. Then click PACKAGE.

After you click package, a warning box will pop up where you have to verify that you have rights to the fonts that you used. Click OK

Below is a screen shot is what your packaged folder should look like.

Once your file is packaged, you can either burn your files to a disk or compress your folder and either upload it to the printer’s website or email the file directly to them.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The CMO's Guide to: The Social Landscape INFOGRAPHIC by @Mashable

Do you subscribe to Mashable’s Social Media Newsletter yet? If not, I would highly recommend it. It is a great resource for all the latest and greatest happenings in the social media world. I read their newsletter on a daily basis and enjoy every minute of it. In addition to Social Media news, they also have news on the latest Tech & Gadgets, Business & Marketing, Video, Mobile, Dev & Design, Media, Social Good and Startups.

Today I was intrigued by one of the articles that they had up. An infographic of “The CMO’s Guide to: The Social Landscape.” Mashable creates infographics on a number of topics, but I think this is by far the best yet. They graphically display which of the most of the popular social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Linked In, You Tube, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit are good, bad and okay for customer communication, brand exposure, traffic to your site and SEO.

Check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to Cook, Bake, or in General to Make Wednesdays

(a Rosarita recipe)
FAJITAS (fa-hee-tas)

1 LB skirt steak, cut across grain in 1/4" strips - or cubed, boned and skinned chicken
2 TBS each: Corn oil and lemon juice
1 tsp each: garlic pwd. and seasoned salt
1/2 tsp each: ground oregano and pepper
1/8 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
1 c. each: green pepper strips, thin onion wedges and thin tomato wedges
1/2 c. Mild Chunky Taco Salsa
8 hot corn or flour tortillas

In medium bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours to marinate. In a 10" skillet, heat 3 tbs oil over high heat until very hot* Saute half of meat until beginning to lose redness, about 30 seconds. Add half of green pepper and onion and continue cooking 1-2 minutes or until crisp-tender; remove all from skillet. Repeat with remaining meat, pepper and onion, in additional oil if needed. Return all of meat mixture to skillet. Add tomato and 1/2 cup of salsa; simmer, tossing meat and vegetables, 1 minute longer. Serve immediately with additional salsa. Makes 4 servings.
*Note: Oil must be very hot to quickly sear meat and seal in juices.
Serving suggestions: Pieces of fajita meat and vegetables can be wrapped in a tortilla, pick up and eat taco-style.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Design Tip: Prepress Checklist

Once you have finished laying out and designing a job, you will need to figure out how you are going to send your files to the print vendor that you have chosen. Here’s a great resource for making sure your documents have high resolution and are press-ready.  Keep it handy and reference it when you are pre-flighting a job to send to a print vendor.

Preflight Checklist
  • Ensure that all graphics and images are in their final size and correct resolution, 100% at 300 dpi
  • Rotate, scale and edit images and graphics prior to placing them in page layout applications such as InDesign, Quark or Publisher
  • Image file formats should be EPS or TIFF (if possible, not JPEG) and your should verify that you do not have any broken links
  • All spot colors should be designated as spot colors and not as CMYK
  • Spell check your document as most print vendors do not take responsibility for editing
  • Remove any trapping (allow the print vendor to apply the trapping)
  • Check for transparency and either flatten or notify the printer so they can flatten the file
  • All bleeds should generally be set to .125 in. unless otherwise specified by the print vendor you plan to use
  • Gather all source files: fonts, graphics, images and layout documents. Use the Package feature in InDesign or send the print vendor a high resolution PDF
  • Prepare a mock-up to give the printer as a finished sample
Stay tuned…next Tuesday we will be posting step-by-step instructions on how to correctly package a file.

Source: Digital Job Preparation Guide for Designers, Zimmerman Printing Company

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Item of the Week: Meet MeMe Cards

Are you looking for a creative way to compliment your business cards? If so, Meet MeMe cards might be just the product you are looking for.

It's as easy as 1-2-3. Image taken from Meet MeMe Website

Meet MeMe cards are customized trading cards that contain a QR code on the front where you are able to link to as many social profiles or websites as you wish. What a great way to help people remember you long after your first meeting. Anyone with a smart phone will be able to scan your QR code, which will bring up a menu of the links you have chosen to connect your card to.

In addition to the QR code, the Meet MeMe card also offers you the space to include a Bio, a “Special Power” and a Quote. Consider your own personalized Meet MeMe trading card a tangible representation of your social media personality.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Taking Stock of Your Paper Options

Ahhh paper, I love it!  The creative horizon is wide open with so many colors, textures, and prints - it's exciting!  An interesting paper can put a personal stamp on any project, therefore, it requires some consideration.  Before choosing your paper, decide how it's going to be used and for the purpose of this blog, we're deciding that it's going to be used for print purposes.  I've chosen 3 properties to touch on: finish/smoothness, impurities, and opacity.

  • Finish/Smoothness - this is the texture of the paper, the smoothness or roughness of its surface.  A smooth finish is good when copying a photograph or designing with full color in general.
  • Impurities - specks, spots, and general imperfections that are left over from the paper-making process, which is all very normal.  In recycled paper, these imperfections come from inks, adhesives, etc., which are nearly impossible to completely remove.  When a best image or a clean look is required, choose a high quality non-recycled paper.  Otherwise, the look of recycled paper can be charming as well as make a statement about your ecological views!
  • Opacity - this refers to how much light a sheet of paper blocks.  The importance of this comes into play when your project is two-sided or heavily inked.  The higher the percentage of opacity in a paper, the better that paper is for printing on both sides because the images will be less likely to show through.
Whether your project is personal or professional, in the printing world paper is the mode in which your message is carried.  Paper can give the underlying impression of class, environmental awareness, whimsy, or sensibility, don't be afraid to express yourself through it!